LaserNetUS is a network of user facilities across the U.S. and Canada that operate ultrapowerful lasers. The network provides open and free access to researchers from North America and internationally and has over 1,200 members.

The BELLA Center in the Accelerator Technology & Applied Physics (ATAP) Division at Berkeley Lab is one of ten partner organizations that will receive funding.

“This year marks the fifth anniversary of the network, and it has been a roaring success in advancing the frontiers of science by providing the capabilities of world-class user facilities to researchers who may not have access to such facilities,” says Lieselotte Obst-Huebl, a research scientist at the BELLA Center and the co-principal investigator and primary point of contact for LaserNetUS users at BELLA.

The Lab’s share of the funding will support experiments on BELLA’s two user facilities: the BELLA Petawatt laser and the Hundred-Terawatt Thomson laser.

“While there is a broad range of experiments conducted at the two facilities, they all rely on the interaction of ultrafast lasers with various plasmas,” explains Obst-Huebl. “For example, researchers use the facilities to study matter under extreme conditions, including experiments designed to explore high-energy-density physics and inertial fusion science.”

Established in 2018, LaserNetUS was created to provide improved access to the most powerful lasers across North America. These lasers can produce light with at least a billion watts of power and ultrafast pulses of light shorter than one-tenth of a trillionth of a second. The BELLA Center has been a partner organization from the start.

“LaserNetUS continues to bring the community together in ways that advance ultrafast science, creating collaborations and combining expertise and capabilities across institutions,” says Cameron Geddes, director of ATAP and co-principal investigator at the BELLA Center. “We look forward to being part of its next phase.”

The DOE’s Office of Fusion Energy Sciences distributes and manages the funding for the selected projects. These projects are chosen by competitive peer review under the DOE Funding Opportunity Announcement for LaserNetUS for discovery science and inertial fusion energy. The $28.5 million in funding is for three years, with $11.4 million allocated in FY23 and $17.1 million in outyear funding contingent on congressional appropriations.

A list of funded projects and more information can be found on the FES program website.